September 9, 2020
Senate Bill Provides Additional Relief for Some, But More Needs to Be Done Alexandria, VA, September 9, 2020 - Eben Peck, Executive Vice President, Advocacy at the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA), releases the following statement in response to the introduction of a "skinny" coronavirus relief package in the U.S. Senate, which is expected to be voted on this week:
"We welcome the provisions in the 'Targeted Relief Package' released by Senate Republicans that will provide additional relief and other benefits to some members of the ASTA community. These include the ability for companies with 300 or fewer employees whose revenues are down at least 35 percent year-over-year to apply for an additional Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan of up to $2 million; an extension of expanded federal unemployment benefits through the end of the year, though at a reduced level of $300 per week; and a broad business 'liability shield' against COVID-related personal injury claims.
"That said, these provisions are clearly not enough given the catastrophic impact of COVID-19 on our part of the travel industry. We call on Congress, the leadership of both parties in particular, to come to the negotiating table, work out their differences, and send a bill to President Trump's desk as soon as possible.
"According to a member survey we conducted last month, close to 95 percent of travel agencies' revenue is down at least three-quarters year-over-year, 63 percent have laid off at least half of their pre-COVID W-2 employees and 73 percent will be out of business within six months unless Congress provides additional, meaningful relief. That's why we're asking that, in addition to the items mentioned above, the final bill include support for the airline industry and those who sell their products. It should also incorporate as many elements of the RESTART Act (S. 3814/H.R. 7481) as possible into any PPP extension and restore the $600 per week expanded unemployment benefits at least through the end of the year."
Rebranded in 2018 as the American Society of Travel Advisors, ASTA is the leading global advocate for travel advisors, the travel industry and the traveling public. Its members represent 80 percent of all travel sold in the United States through the travel agency distribution channel. Together with hundreds of internationally-based members, ASTA’s history of industry advocacy traces back to its founding in 1931 when it launched with the mission to facilitate the business of selling travel through effective representation, shared knowledge and the enhancement of professionalism. For more information about the Society, visit ASTA.org. Consumers can connect with an ASTA travel advisor at TravelSense.org.